Watching your child play sports can be thrilling, but it sometimes can leave a parent squinting through their fingers if their child isn’t having a great game, season, or even practice. In those tough situations, it can be hard to know what to say. Parents know their child best, but we can all use a little guidance when it comes to parenting an athlete. When it’s been a rough game, here are 4 topics to avoid – and what to focus on instead.
Don’t Ask Why
Challenging as it may be, asking your child to explain or justify their performance isn’t helpful. Just like at school, they’re still learning when it comes to sports. Mistakes will be made and that’s all part of the process.
Do ask how your child feels; how do they think the game went? Where could they / the team use improvement? What went right? What went wrong? How could it be fixed?
Leave the Official / Coach / Teammate Out of It
It can be easy to blame an official for a bad call, the coach for calling a good play, or a teammate for a botched play. But as the saying goes, there’s no “i” in team and blaming others isn’t productive.
Instead of blaming, focus on the fact that everyone is human and everyone makes mistakes, and that’s ok.
Don’t Overinflate Their Abilities
Continuously inflating your child’s abilities can be detrimental in two ways. First, it can build an ego that is difficult to coach. Second, some kids may feel that they are being held to an impossible standard.
Praising your child for their overtly great skills is important, but looking at other areas is helpful too. Sportsmanship, being a team player, not giving up, strong effort, etc are all important areas to praise as well.
Winning Isn’t The Only Goal
Over emphasizing winning can put undue pressure on young athletes. If an athlete is only focusing on winning, they may also be missing out on the other benefits of team sports.
Instead, try to focus on the experience. What did you enjoy most about practice? The game? The scrimmage? Follow up on what they liked best about those areas.
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